Washington, D.C. -
During a congressional hearing on Tuesday, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Ben Carson said that transgender people in homeless shelters make other people "not comfortable."
Representative Mike Quigley, a Democrat from Illinois, asked Carson why the agency had yet to reissue guidance on transgender people seeking admittance to homeless shelters. Such resources were scrubbed from HUD's website early on in Carson's tenure.
During a committee hearing last year, Carson promised that the guidance would return "as soon as possible."
Quigley wondered what was taking so long.
"We finally got a general counsel in December," Carson answered. "This is March. So, yes, it has been since we've gotten a general counsel something that we've been looking at."
"Remember it is complex: We obviously believe in equal rights for everybody, including the LGBT community, but we also believe in equal rights for the women in the shelters and shelters where there are men and their equal rights," Carson said. "So we want to look at things that really provide for everybody and doesn't impede the rights of one for the sake of the other, so it's complex issue and it's been on our agenda. We've talked about it quite a bit since we finally got a general counsel."
When Quigley asked for an example of how transgender people interfere with other people's rights, Carson cited bathroom concerns.
"I'll give you an example: There are some women who said they were not comfortable with the idea of being in a shelter, being in a shower, and somebody who had a very different anatomy," Carson replied.
Carson is opposed to LGBT rights, including the rights of transgender people. During his 2016 presidential campaign, Carson proposed a "transgender bathroom" and opposed transgender people serving in the military. Soon after he dropped out of the race, he called being transgender the "height of absurdity." He's also said that allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry will lead to "mass killings" and that prison makes people gay. (He later apologized for saying that prison can make people gay.)
LGBT rights advocate GLAAD said that Carson's remarks make him unfit to helm HUD.
"It is because of derogatory myths like this, which have been debunked time and time again, that the transgender community faces disproportionate levels of discrimination and homelessness." GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement. "Today's blatant and factually inaccurate anti-transgender rhetoric is the latest in a long line of uninformed and biased statements about LGBTQ people that make Dr. Carson unfit to be the head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development."